Sunday, November 26, 2017

How a store-man can kill a running shoe brand?

My son and I walked into a plush Just do it! store inside one of the largest shopping centers in Bangalore.  I wanted to buy a pair of trail running shoes. 

The young storekeeper gave a smile and took us closer to the brand section which read "Running".

Storekeeper: "How can I help you, Sir?"

Me: "Hi, I'm looking for a trail running shoes"

Storekeeper: "Yes sir, all these are running shoes, and all of them are for trials"

Me: confused, "trials? sorry trail shoes.."

Storekeeper: "yes, all models are for you to do trials"

Who said shopping for men is delightful....

Me: "T..R..A...I...L... Trail running... I need a pair of shoes to run on dirt trail and mud roads."

Storekeeper: "You tell me your foot size sir, I'll get you a pair, for trials...you can even run, jump or walk inside the store"

I decided to take the blame; I was disappointed as well as frustrated for not able to communicate well and concluded that I may not get what I wanted.   I randomly looked around to see if I could spot a trail running shoes myself.  Without any luck, my son and I moved to another international brand store adjacent to this shop.  

The "impossible is nothing" sign in front of the second shop boosted my confidence to find a good pair of trail running shoes.  

Me: "I would like to buy a pair of Trail Running shoes" and I also repeated the same in Kannada

Storekeeper: "Which training sir, gym, fitness, football?"

Me: "TRAIL running shoes" with a stress on TRAIL

The guy nodded his head (gosh! never realized later, that it was the typical Indian way of saying I don't know).  

He took us closer to the brand rack and picked a road running shoes, and said "Sir, this is a good one"

Me: "Why this is a good one?"

Storekeeper: "Sole is nice, lightweight, you can run faster and this is the latest technology"

Me: "What is so special about the latest technology, and what about my need to run on trails?"

Storekeeper: "Sir! this is the hot selling model and every runner buys this"

Me: "Trail??"

Storekeeper: "We also  have a discount on this sir"

Me: "Trail?"

Storekeeper: "Do you like this color - we also have another color available in the same model"

He was going on and on... not quite connecting with my needs.

My son (I was able to find him unable to control the inappropriate laughter) and I looked at each other with a grin on our faces.  I politely thanked the salesman and left the store with empty hands.

They say trail running is filled with surprises and mysteries and I have learnt that even buying trail running shoes also can take you to a mysterious wold.


Are you shopping for running shoes in branded stores in Bengaluru? God save the trail runners ;)

Running is actually a simple sport.  But interestingly, (read it as unfortunately :)) it has become a very technical sport for someone like me who really like the complex side of it.   Whenever I go shopping for a sports product, I really want to experience something unique, every single time.

What do I expect from the salesmen in a branded shoe shop?

I certainly expect this man to be in a sports attire, have adequate knowledge about the sport, the products displayed, the company and its products.  Apart from this he must bring passion, he should know about his customers and their requirements very well to meet their expectations.  In addition, the salesmen should be able to provide a comparison of similar products and also talk about why their products are superior than their competitor products.  The best case is when the salesman engages in the local sports or running community and knows a lot about it.  Finally, honesty! if he can't find what I wanted, its better to say a sorry!.

Alright, I had found a salesman with all the above qualities, Will I still buy a perfect pair of shoes?

Even if the salesman could convince me, I may not buy a perfect pair of shoes.  But, I'll be certainly not walk away with a bad pair of shoes.  However, Having such knowledgeable salesmen in branded stores can not only upkeep the brand value but will certainly satisfy the so-called 'technical' customers like me, who really look for few things that are beyond what is visible in the display racks.

Ok, the branded stores do not have such salesmen, so what, they still sell and make millions?

The biggest put off for me is when I find the so-called international brand stores keep inexperienced staff members who really do not possess the desired knowledge about the sports the brand is associated with, or understand the needs of their customers, and finally, do not know the technical specifications of the product that they sell.

In short, they don't bring in the passion and the inquisitiveness to learn from the experience, to play the role of good salesmen in that setup. This instantly can kill the brand value and also disappoint the customers.

do the product makers really worry about these important aspects?
do they really take efforts in teaching the importance of passion and imparting the right product knowledge to the salesmen who represent their brand?
or do they only depend on the advertisements and product reviews online to drive their sales?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Have you experienced something similar and funny while shopping?

Share post them in the comments section below...

About me,

I'm a random writer who enjoys the basic act of sharing and teaching others.  I'm an ACE certified personal trainer, an ultramarathon runner, and a running coach with a personal touch.  I left my corporate job after 24 years of working and have founded KaysFIT Academy in 2016.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The tale of two ultras, Jawadhu & Malnad

** Warning ** this is an ultra marathon blog... don't expect this to end soon :)

The last one week, since I completed my first ever The Malnad Ultra 110k run, slowly itching more generously all around both my ankles, is an every minute occurrence for me. Whenever I sooth and scratch the leech bite spots, at least 8 of them, I have been reminded of everything memorable that occurred from the time I left Bangalore on Friday morning (6th Oct) till the time I returned back home on Sunday night (8th Oct)



Going in a complete circle, many aspects of this journey made it an extremely very special one,
  • Vivid memories of traveling on a train after a long time.  Traveling in a beautiful train (yes, the Jan Shatabdi is certainly the best experience), the trip to Birur was a visual treat with so much greenery all by the sides of the train tracks.  Suchi's company was awesome and it was great to share the event with Vijay, Sweta, Elango, Shan, Watson, Jaisingh, Narayanan & Vishwanath.
  • the surprise celebrity status was given when the Malanad Ultra official photographers started clicking random pictures of the Ultra runners inside the train 
  • the noisy and bumpy bus trip from Birur to Ballavara cutting through lush green fields and village roads
  • The never-ending Ultra-runners yapping about running and what to expect from Malnad
  • night briefing by the Malnad team on the day before, followed by sumptuous dinner went in full volume with an excuse of 'carb-loading'
  • another full-on breakfast and the most energizing start of the race on Saturday morning at 6.30 am
  • completing my first ever three digits Ultra 110 kilometers and dashing into the finish line with my arms wide open
  • and finally, the most fulfilling trip back home trying to recount every single minute that was spent during this journey
There is so much one can feel, hear, smell and sense in this part of the secret world and I doubt if everything that I went through can be written down by me to the last word.  In my opinion, the best to experience The Malnad Ultra is to participate in this event at least once in a lifetime.  I'm certainly fortunate to be part of it this year.

Last year, I missed the first edition of Malnad Ultra due to my #424242running road safety awareness campaign runs commitments. On multiple weekends, Vijay Pandey ran and supported my campaign. He was very instrumental in planting the idea of running the Malnad in my mind by often lighting my desires to experience the event.  Vijay's constant narrations about his experiences, the passionate connection the runners can experience the hills and nature had multiplied my hopes to experience a wonderful event.  I immediately registered for the event as soon as the bookings were open.

For the year 2017, I had set myself 3 major goals; to complete the #424242running campaign successfully, to run the 12 hr stadium run in Chennai under grueling heat and humidity to test my endurance limits and to run the Malnad Ultra to taste my first ever 3 digit Ultra run.  

Jawadhu Hills Ultra was not part of my list but chose to run JHU 75k to understand the technical aspects of running on a mountain trail for the first time.  This was another most memorable trip supported by Balaji & Gayatri and the rest of the MFC team who was kind enough to accommodate me into their group.  Elango was kind enough to pick me up from Vellore and we had a wonderful road trip.  The staying logistics and food was superbly supported by the MFC and I didn't have to worry much about it.  I had my goals set for the event and paced a bit faster during the first 25k.  I ended up walking a lot in the second half due to the burn-out in the steep climbs and downhills filled with slush and mud.


I learned few more of my physical limitations as the nature of the trail slowed me down at many sections. Thanks to the heavy rains the day before which added to the challenge the course had to offer.  Interestingly, the sun and humidity did not bother me. JHU experience provided an exciting learning opportunity.  I completed the 75k in 11 hrs 20 mins with 1st in the Veteran Category and finishing 6th overall. The experience that I gained was immense and acted as a foundation for The Malnad Ultra.  

Jawadhu Hills Ultra 75 K Veteran Category results (Source here)

My training, specifically for Malnad, barely had any running involved and I was averaging only 90 km in Aug and Sep.  Interestingly, my monthly average was ~270 km while preparing for the Comrades marathon.  My fitness trainer profession and teaching badminton involve many physical movements every single day through demonstrations.  I was certainly getting my share of exercises regularly.   The only thing I was doubtful about was my running endurance.  Unlike the Comrades Marathon, The Malnad Ultra did not offer any time or cut off pressure.   I decided to stay cool and eagerly wait for the race day.

At the Malnad region, the rain God was threatening us with some random showers on Friday.  It looks like there were heavy rains just a few days before and the trails were expected to be slushy.  The briefing session by the Malnad race organizer Anand was thorough and at the same time offered some insights into the dangers lurking on the trails.  With merely over 120 participants in the 110 km race category, there was a greater possibility for a runner to experience lonely sections.  Due to perennial rain and the wetness on the trails leeches were waiting to suck runners elevated blood pressure, a high concentration of carbs, salt & sugar.  He also said about sighting snakes and few wild animals.  Being the first time, I was deeply hallucinating and as well as imagining the entire run from start to end in my mind.  I tried to play through my mind about how to run through mountains under pitch darkness.  Unlike any typical pre-marathon day night, for the first time, I drifted into a deep sleep easily.


The race started with a bang at 6.30 am.  There was no sign of rain, humidity was under control and the weather appeared to be just perfect for a day-long running journey.  All the runners were constantly moving on with their arduous journey with different thoughts.  Within the first few kilometers, the wet roads filled with mush and slush made me an instant moon-walker and were slowing me down.  There were many coffee plantation workers and their family members sitting quietly in amusement & in a well-disciplined manner, and cheering for the runners at the fuel stations.  They were continuously clapping with bright smiles.  Their children offered "good lucks" and "all the bests" with their tiny thumbs pointing upwards, providing free visual fuel to my body and mind.  Many sections of the trails offered eerie silence often broken by the endless crying of the cicadas during the daytime.  I reached the Summit and quickly turned around since the distant mountains and the Badra reservoir were not visible due to cloud cover.  The Summit also offered a little extra dose of fresh air to my lungs.  It was a bliss to run through the 350+ years old green coffee plantations & variety of wild trees, bushes, wierd crawling insects & sudden water streams flowing down the hills.


I was able to control my pace till about 83 km and I felt my quads were tightening.  I started to slow down and decided to keep moving under the darkness.  The trail section was too risky to run.  My strategy was to move constantly and not to take breaks in between (fear of being leeched ;), walk the ups and run/walk the flats & downs.  I switched my headlamps to the ambient mode with the fear of losing the batteries in the middle of nowhere.  At one point in time, I was feeling a mildly increasing pain on both my ankles and when I bent down I was totally under shock to find 3-4 leeches clinging onto my leg.  The fear of leeches latching onto my legs had never allowed me to stand in one place even for seconds since the beginning of the run.  The blood-hungry rascals would quickly crawl onto the shoes and hurriedly disappear inside the socks. One can only feel them after few minutes of plunging their teeth inside the veins. Then it is a crazy feeling to wriggle them off. They don't leave you unless you remove them off properly. I was carrying a packet full of salt and every time I found a leech I would take some salt sprinkled on them and brush them down.  From the thoughts of leeches to thoughts of snakes, the night was getting scarier and I started hallucinating most dreaded things.

Pic: Pitch black surroundings, but for the headlamps & reflector sign boards
Amidst all these chaotic mental games, I was extremely positive about the safety of the surroundings.
The ghostly appearance of plantation worker next to the fire was adding to the eeriness that the night forest had to offer.  The slush and slippery route (The even organizer mentioned that even the 4 x 4 failed to move in certain places) offered enough challenges to the already tired legs.  Crickets were constantly calling their mates making the whole forest creepier.  There were hundreds of moths flew right onto my face thinking that they were targeting the headlamps, the often moving shadows reminding me of some strange animal hurridly moving towards me.

The last few kilometers after getting back to the main road was a bit of relief and the surprise slushy trail section from Rajagiri topped as the 'most challenging' lap of the entire run.  The last fuel station volunteers offered me soup but I wasn't in a mood to stop.  I quickly grabbed a glass of juice and kept moving.  The finish line was in sight and was already worried that the thrilling adventure was going to end soon.  I quickly hopped back to the road and started slowly running towards the finish line.  The night suddenly became so beautiful.  My excitement levels rose every single step as I started seeing the lights of the finish line sparkling through the trees under the darkness and the loud announcements echoing through the mountains.
















Last few words

At 1:27 am, after moving around for 18 hrs and 57 minutes, finishing 15 out of 71 runners started, Malnad Ultra, for the first time appeared to be an extremely unique race.  I had always gone through the physical, mental, psychological and spiritual stages of running Ultramarathons and at least once during my run, questioned the very reason for me to signup for the run.  But, at no point in my run during this event, I felt like quitting and I was wishing and longing to have a longer than just a 110k adventure.  My love with Ultra trails has certainly multiplied.

I'm now worried that the leech itch will stop in a day or two and I might as well forget about this piece of "not supposed to be forgotten memory" until the next year.

I was totally submerged in the abundance of the nature that this part of the world had to offer. Wish I pick a time machine to travel back to the stone ages, become those mountain dwellers who loved to move around on foot, eating fruits and nuts, chopped woods for fire, traded woods and pebbles, drank water from the brooks and soaked in the clean nature free from the digital distractions and pothole filled city streets.

I've compiled all the videos (unedited) that I shot during the run.  Those innocent children would always bring back the cheerful memory back.   I will add some captions in the coming weeks.


About the organizers & volunteers: 

Anand and his Malnad team have taken painstaking efforts in providing access to the hidden beauty lying within the private estates.  I doubt even the owners of the Coffee Day or their friends and relatives, or those who had an unlimited tourist access to these estates would have seen so much 110 km in one single day & night.  It was very motivating to see Jagdeesh Damania,  Brijesh Gajeria & Sindhu Rao among the organizing team/the brain behind this beautiful event.  I can't think about any complaints and I'm extremely grateful to the team for thinking about providing an adventure like this.   God bless you guys!  This is certainly not an ordinary ultramarathon but certainly an extraordinary one.

About my running gear & fuel
  • Running gear
    • Camelbak 3 liters: I was always carrying 1-2 liters of water, drink to thirst and to splash on the face & back of my shoulder, I was missing my Indian flag & the road safety banners when many of my known friends reminded me of seeing with the gear always.
    • Salomon Sense Pro shoes+Nike and Kalanji dry-fit socks
    • Redmi 3S - Phone used for shooting the videos till the end.  Surprisingly the batter consumed was only 28% at the end of 19 hrs.
    • ONNIGHT 710 headlamps, started using the Low mode and switched to the ambient mode with the fear of draining the battery off fast.
    • Garmin 310xt - died in 103 km.  Lesson learned: Keep the contrast to lowest possible to get the best juice from the battery
  • Fuel
    • Gels, 9 of them
    • Homemade protein bar, thanks to my wife for making them for me with care and love!
    • Morning breakfast Semia Upma + scrambled egg & skipped having lunch
    • Refreshing green tea & electrolyte mixture, lemon juice on the course, to thirst
    • On the course 4 white bread slices + Jam & butter, the solids are getting better during my runs
  • Lastly, loads of self-motivation and desire for an adventure!
About me,

I'm a random writer who enjoys the basic act of sharing and teaching others.  I'm an ACE certified personal trainer, an ultramarathon runner, and a running coach with a personal touch.  I left my corporate job after 24 years of working and have founded KaysFIT Academy in 2016.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Do running events really unite us or divide us?

The growing number of runners and running events are probably the most beautiful thing to occur in Indian cities.  Indians are becoming more health conscious and taking up this beautiful sport to rediscover their hidden potential irrespective of the age, sex, and cultural backgrounds.  This trend is highly beneficial for the city dwellers who are leading a sedentary lifestyle, eating fast food, living a fast & stressful life, in a busy business and working community.

Running is another fabulous sport where each one of us can venture out with simple attire and a pair of running shoes and the world to explore. We make new friends, strengthen relationships, create new wonders ultimately investing time for a very strong foundation to a disease free healthy future.

There are several reasons why running events are organized by many.  Quite a few are friendly in nature, organized for the spirit and joy of running. Many others are purely commercial in nature with an intention to make money through sponsorship and by charging huge registration fees. Some could be for social causes and generate awareness.   There could be few with confused objectives, falling somewhere in between or nowhere.

Unfortunately, even the running events organized for a cause or to develop awareness are marketed to attract participants with discount vouchers, free T-Shirts, finisher medals & post run breakfast.

Whatever may be the reasons, such events provide an opportunity to stay united, to connect with people from different parts of life, bring out the entire city to streets on some occasions, create new jobs and more opportunities for many to have fun in different ways.

The expectations from these events grow with the money paid to participate. At the same time, there are no standards for expectations when everything is free and even when the quality is compromised.

It is very unfortunate to see that any debacles in paid running events instantly creates sparks and flames in the social media (healthy debates) and brings out the differences in our beliefs (to make things better).  The saddest part is when all these discussions turn toward individuals;  new groups are formed turning the healthy debate to personal attacks creating differences.

It is my wish,


let such running events and our differences unite us, 
not divide us



About me,

I'm a random writer who enjoys the basic act of sharing and teaching others.  I'm an ACE certified personal trainer, an ultramarathon runner, and a running coach with a personal touch.  I left my corporate job after 24 years of working and have founded KaysFIT Academy in 2016.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Expect nothing, apt to be surprised - TCSW10k experience

TCS World 10 K Bengaluru

The last time I ran a timed 10 k event was in the year 2015. It was my fastest and the most exciting run with a timing of 00:47:23, it was indeed painful to sustain that speed.  It took a toll on my body and I spent few days to recover from the hard efforts.

I did not have any plans to run the #TCSW10k this year since I just came out of my long enduring #424242running campaign as part of the SahayaLRTS's initiative towards road safety, followed by a full month of complete shutdown and bracing myself for the 12 hrs stadium run in Chennai.  Running a short distance event was not listed in my 2017 plan.  I was keeping myself adequately fit due to my regular and fun filled fitness and exercise sessions with my KaysFIT Academy members.

About two weeks back, I received an invitation to deliver the "The Next 48 hrs" session at the #tcsw10k expo, and I was excited and happy about it. I was totally soaked in the preparation for the talk since the time the invitation arrived. The more I prepared, the more I wanted to run... Nevertheless, the big day came too soon, and here's what I planned to speak. I put myself as a 10 k runner who would go through every bit of planning meticulously to prepare for the race.  I wore my running coach hat to provide the best advise to my clients.  With them, I wanted to travel back in time, over 16 weeks, starting from the foundation of the run, planning for the nutrition, rest, recovery and tapering.  I also created my bullet list to talk about how to “prime the body before the race day” to give the possible best performance.

I wanted to give the best experience for my audience like in a short & sweet 10 k race. I summed up my best personal learning both from the things that worked well and the things that did not.

Unfortunately, I felt extremely odd that I wasn’t going to run this marathon...

Hence, instead of running the race to my best efforts, I had decided to give my best preparation for the talk at the expo.   I wanted to fare well in delivering that and that was my race.

At the race expo

On Friday, when I entered the expo hall at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium, I felt something was missing.  I hadn’t registered for the event and for a change, I was only theoretically prepared well.

When the time arrived, I delivered my session.   It was well received by the runners who attended the session and the organizers alike.  I also received a wink from my little daughter and a big thumbs-up from my wife who was sitting in the front and recording.




The Next 48 hrs - session


With Mr. Venkat, an inspiring person who runs YouTooCanRun.com
It came as a pleasant surprise when I fount that I could complete a manual registration to run the race. Hastily I registered for this run! I was happy to run and had no expectations from myself for the race.

I collected the bib which had no name and with a starting lineup stamped as 'F' pen.

Few of my friends asked me whether I had any target finish time in mind.  My mind was wandering for an answer.   I did not plan for this race.  I wasn’t doing any speed training.  I told myself to settle down any time closer to my 2015 10k time or even few minutes slower due to the 'F' starting lineup.  I wasn’t sure if I could run the race better than the last time since I haven’t trained specifically for a short distance race.

Race day

On Sunday morning, I reached the Coffee Day junction just around 4:50 AM.  I completed a 10-min warm-up behind the Coffee Day and rushed to the porta-potty before the start.  After 10 minutes of waiting in the queue, I walked out with great relief, victoriously.  The time was 5:10 AM.  I started clinging to the crowd and crawling towards the ‘F’ pen, inching towards the stands, 2 levels up.
Runners queuing up to enter the 'F' pen due to an unexpected water logged stands entrance, 5 minutes to start
The 20 mins that I spent bumping other runners shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet was very chaotic.  There was a growing impatience among the runners when they realized the queue was due to clogged walk ways at the entrance.  The rain that lashed the night before was one of the reasons.
View from the 'F' pen - Pens ahead of us were already ready to start the race
From a long distance at the stands, I watched the flag off at 5.30 am.  My legs were tap-dancing to the ambiance, craving to run.  With a slow crawl towards the start line, I managed to cross the start mat at 5:42 am, a good 12 mins after the official start.  I started running and carefully cut across a massive volume of runners to get to the open section of the road outside the stadium.

With thousands of runners filling the streets on a chilly morning, running was getting fun.  Going through the crowded streets and getting past the runners was like playing a complex maze game.  I ran faster whenever I saw space ahead of me, hopped to the right and left whenever I came close to other runners, slowed down when I did not have any space to move and accelerated whenever I could.  I ran on broken banners littered on the road and ran through the ankle deep water-logged sections.  The only thing missing was the presence of hurdles to completely call the race a steeplechase.  I was on a constant roll.

I finished with a memorable personal best of 00:45:34, 24th place out of 881 in my age (40-45 years) category

Pace split: 4:43, 4:23, 4:57, 4:33, 4:45, 4:32, 4:35, 4:10, 4:32, 4:08

At the finish line, I treasured the medal with no pressure.


“If you expect nothing, you're apt to be surprised. You'll get it"
-  Malcolm Forbes

Somewhere inside the Cubbon Park - sprinting

Extremely dangerous stretch for runners entering the stands post race to collect medals + breakfast
About me,

I'm a random writer who enjoys the basic act of sharing and teaching others.  I'm an ACE certified personal trainer, an ultramarathon runner, and a running coach with a personal touch.  I left my corporate job after 24 years of working and have founded KaysFIT Academy in 2016.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

What keeps you going?

It was on 16-Apr-2016, on the final week campaign run on road safety "Be Safe! Be there to Save!" by Sahaya LRTS

"What keeps you going?"

I asked my 15 year old son (Aditya Kannan) after he ran about 29 km (on his way to complete a full marathon distance 42.2 km).

I am a true believer of processes to take me to my achieve what I aspire as goals.  I strive to spend a lot of time in planning and a little time in execution.  I learnt the very important aspect of always doing the self-talk to focus on one step at a time.  I very often, love testing my endurance limits.

During my tough days at work or all along my long distance endurance training runs on during any marathon event, I always struggled to find an answer for this question "What keeps me going?"

I've asked this question while running the Comrades Marathon, especially after crossing 60 km in 2015 up run and 2016 down run.

I've asked this question while attempting 42 consecutive weeks of running 42 km every week to spread awareness on road safety

I've been asking this question during my entire life

I always wanted to ask this question to everyone who inspires me - who keeps going on and on and on....with extreme focus and determination on anything that they do.

Oddly, whenever I found answers they were never the convincing ones.

I'm still discovering the true answer to this (also) philosophical question.

"What keeps you going?"

The response my son gave during the campaign run was simply awesome.

He spontaneously shared his idea of what kept him going on that day.  I was so lucky to capture that moment.





Those words uttered by him were like the "words of wisdom" and they reminded me to stick and focus on my goals and think about the finish line and the celebrations.

He said,

"The Goal"....after a brief pause he said, "The goal keeps me going"
"The celebrations...".... "the end..."
"and the experience..."
"the memories..."
"...and what I'm going to take from today"
"..that''s it"

he felt proud of this achievement and everybody who was joining him on that day...

"let's go..." is what he said... and after that, on that day, he kept on going till the finish and successfully completed his first 42.2 km.
On that day, he kept on going till the finish and successfully completed his first 42.2 km.

He has been a great source of inspiration, a great strength to my road safety campaign and also on various other aspects of my life.

It was certainly the proudest day for me and my wife Meera Kannan

What keeps you going?

Discover more about Aditya Kannan here... (www.adityakannan.com)

About me,

I'm an ACE certified personal trainer, an Ultra Marathon runner, and a running coach.  A writer here and there and always enjoys the basic act of sharing and teaching others.  I left my corporate job after 24 years of working and have founded KaysFIT Academy, with a mission to promote overall wellness, provide best possible fitness coaching & mentoring, and fitness education.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

42 weeks 42 marathons 42 places - all for a cause

With my AnnaBond on the 2nd campaign @Cubbon Park
CAMPAIGN STATUS ON 26-APR-2017 - completed

2016 is a very special year for me.  I have turned 42 and the number 42 is a very significant number for every single marathon runner. Like how it does to me, the number 42 would instantly salivate and kick in the adrenaline in a runners body.

On April 26th, 6 days after I turned 42 years, I never imagined that my urge to be a first responder to a road accident (involving a biker in Bangalore) would impact and alter my thinking.  (Story here...).  That eventful night drove me to start a social initiative and a campaign for spreading the awareness on road safety.  During the last few months, I have witnessed several emergency situations and was fortunate to provide support to victims on the train to Hyderabad & on the road #helpkirantoday

I am so much excited to combine my passion for running and at the same time build awareness with "Be Safe, Be there to Save!" initiative through my ambitious, yet to register NGO "Sahaya-Let's Raise The Spirits"  (More about the initiative here...)

I will be running 42 consecutive weekends 42 marathon distances in 42 different places (#424242running) (~6:30 hrs to 7:30 hrs on every single run) in and around Bangalore (campaign started on the 2nd of July and will end on April 2017).   During these campaign runs, I'll be wearing special banners with road safety awareness messages written in them and go through several busy roads and intersections.   I'll also personally hand over the Orange (for adults) and Yellow (for children) pledge cards.

Orange (adults) and Yellow (children)- Road safety pledge cards
I fully aware that it will be very physically demanding to run a full marathon every weekend.  But, I'm very committed to doing this since I believe combining a very important social cause with my own passion for running is something that I consider as 'fun to do!'.  This is going to be possible only since I know my family is fully behind this.  I also have few amazing friends who are super enthusiastic about this initiative and they want to collaborate with me.

Do connect with me on the Facebook page dedicated to this cause and contact me if you would like to join one of the weekends - it doesn't matter whether it is 3 km or 10 km or even the entire 42kms stretch.  Fun and fulfillment are guaranteed.

(view the Facebook page here... - join the Sahaya community and support the cause)

I sincerely believe that through this campaign, along with my friends, network of professionals and the large running community that I'm connected with (my assets), I can bring in a positive transformation of the society.

Somewhere on the road - with my son during the first run! #424242running 
About me,

I'm an ACE certified personal trainer, an Ultra Marathon runner, and a running coach.  A writer here and there and always enjoys the basic act of sharing and teaching others.  I left my corporate job after 24 years of working and have founded KaysFIT Academy, with a mission to promote overall wellness, provide best possible fitness coaching & mentoring, and fitness education.  




Saturday, June 4, 2016

Comrades 2016 - Race Report

my Comrades 2015 Up run race report here...


The slogan for this year (91st Comrades) was "Izokuthoba" which means "It will humble you"

I'm the happiest runner for finishing the Comrades Marathon back-to-back Up (31-May-2015) and Down (29-May-2016) runs.  2016 Comrades had total Qualified: 18 597 / Started: 16 807 / Finished: 14 431 (source)

It was always an exhilarating experience to run the 90 kilometers long (56 miles) Comrades Marathon and I always dreamed about finishing both Up and Down runs.  In August 2015, I almost decided not to participate due to certain personal commitments.  But things had changed and as the time flew in favor of me, I registered for the Down run on just the day before the registration cut off.

The run up to the Comrades marathon was a very exciting journey even this time. I had been to South Africa twice already (1 1/2 times at the Comrades finish line). With the Sub-4 SCMM this year and moving up to the D pen in Comrades start line, I planned to give my best attempt for the down run. From Jan to beginning of May everything went like a clockwork precision.  I was getting fitter, stronger and more confident as the days progressed.

The trouble! yet another down run

My runner-self-discovery had its own share of troubles. First week of May, I realized that I was actually ignoring my glutes muscle pain (since 2 weeks) after my runs which started bothering me more and more as I ignored. I reached out to Dr. Gladson Johnson (Attitude Prime) and when I explained my condition he readily agreed to support me despite his busy schedule.  The assessment done by Dr Gladson (a very professional and a thorough one) revealed that I had tight ITB that needed immediate corrections.

Trouble seemed to have repeated with my down hill run (2 years back I had a similar situation just before my 2014 Comrades)

When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble too difficult to overcome.
- Wilma Rudolph

The time to start fixing my ITB was not the best to say.  After the advanced stretches routines I required plenty of rest and recovery for the muscles to repair and heal.  I stopped running and shifted to swimming and cycling. Within one week the pain pattern was completely different. A mild pain in the glutes muscles shifted to a stabbing pain at my right ITB and also at my Piriformis muscles (like Sciatica) even when I walked. After 3 weeks the situation only kept worsening and I would pickup severe pain just after 2-3 kms of running. I decided to drop my travel plans and give the Comrades down run a pass.

It was really difficult for me to accept a decision like this.  I've spent close to 8 months of thinking and 4 months of training and the injury surfacing at the last minute was a real set back.

Emotional flight trip!

Strange things do happen which can instantly change our life direction from down to up. On 24th evening, my daughter, Anjali, came home from her friends place and wanted to watch something in YouTube. I was reading a book and after a little while started hearing a music very familiar to me. First I thought it was just a hallucination but later I found it wasn't. I heard the Chariots of Fire theme music and Anjali was listening to it. It is the same music that every single Comrades marathon runner would listen to, with so much emotion, at the start line just before the final two rooster crows. I've seen some runners cry when they hear the music and I've personally experienced that too. I instantly had goosebumps and ran up to my daughter, lifter her up and gave her a big hug and planted few kisses for putting me on a virtual but an emotional flight trip to the Comrades start line.  I wanted to be there again.

I was continuously nurturing my painful IT and glutes muscles and I started feeling that it was getting much better. The only thing that I did not have with me was adequate time to fully recover. I have actually too soon tapered and wasn't ready to give my 'best efforts' to finish the Comrades.

“Don't miss the bus, boy. You're missing a lot of things in the world, better not miss that bus.” 
― Robert Cormier, The Chocolate War

Anjali had heard the music in her friends place earlier that day and she liked the music very much.  She wanted to hear it again when she returned home which was simply amazing. This was a really the turning point for me and I made up my mind to experience the Comrades this year irrespective of the outcome. I wanted to go there and be there at the start line on the 29th.  I decided to listen to my body on the race day.

South Africa - 3rd year

Sam was there to provide me a warm welcome at the Durban airport on the 26th evening along with Pinto, a young runner from Mumbai. We visited the expo on the 27th morning and took a some good rest on the 27th as well on the 28th. On 29th morning at 3.00 am, Sebastian (Sam's son) took us to Pietermaritzburg and we reached the start line by around 4:30 am.

The road leading to the City Hall were already littered with runners anxiously marching towards the start line. The electrifying ambiance and the abundant energy levels kept all the runners warm despite the temperature was around 11 degrees cold. I kept thinking about my injuries and how I would perform during the run.

Race about to start - new trouble!

A stupid thing happened just before I entered my D pen. I was jolted and thrown forward when I missed a drain hole on the road intersecting with the foot path and fell down and twisted my ankle. I started suddenly sweating even at that cold weather. I came all the way to Pietermaritzburg to experience the race and I was prepared to deal with the injuries that I came with.  But, I was totally not prepared to start the race with a twisted ankle. I picked myself up, limped forward, mixed along with the other runners, picked a spot on the road and sat down quietly while gently massaging my pain spot. When I removed my shoes, I was able to feel a swelling right below my ankle joint. I was very angry and upset with myself. All the other pains disappeared and I knew it was going to be a battle between me vs the newly twisted ankle+the big 5 hills+the terrible slopes and the banking in the highway during the second half+Piriformis+ITB.  Who said running a Comrades marathon is easy?  The fun was about to unfold.

..and the race begins...

The last 30 minutes before the start was filled with the usual sensational routines starting with the South African national anthem, Shosholoza, Charriots of fire and the Cockarols before the gun was fired.



The race began with a great fanfare as usual and I kept moving forward along with the rest of the runners. My focus was on every single footstep to land in a way to avoid the shooting pain at my ankle. After crossing Drummond is when I realized that I forgot about my ITB, Piriformis.  My right ankle was actually holding very well. I decided to finish the race and I was also happy to meet Sam on the way at multiple places and we kept cheering at each other.  It was really an amazing energy shot to meet Clinton and his family anxiously waiting to meet Sam on the way.

Throughout the run I was texting my family and also made some calls to tell my family how I was doing.

I had 27 mins to finish my final 3 kms.  I started seeing the finish line confidently.

..the finish





I finally entered the roaring Sahara Kingsmeed Stadium.  The stadium was at the noisiest sound levels since the spectators were shouting and cheering the runners to finish the race in the final few minutes.   I too finished and like every other time I wished my wife and kids were there at the finish lines since they deserve a big hug from me for being the successful forces behind my achievements.

I felt like sitting in the top of the world to experience the Comrades finish and also to walk away with a back to back finisher medal.

I also stood there at the finish line to witness the 11:59:59 drama.  I was happy for Sam for completing his 12th Comrades.




I was so fortunate and happy to find many of friends and family members were tracking me, wishing and cheering all the runners throughout the day. It takes double the endurance effort of running a Comrades than to be there for others.

Comrades brings the best experience for the runners and also to the people who care for them.  This race is so special due to the course, the people of South Africa, the endurance challenges, the cut offs, the emotional start, during the run and the closure.

It was heartbreaking and unacceptable to find runners collapsing at various sections of the race, even just few meters before the race due to accidental falls, cramps and exhaustion.  I was thankful to the God for being so fortunate for not getting into those terrible ones and run into the finish line successfully and free from any damaging injuries.

The outcome of the race might have separated the runners as some went on to created history, few walked away with happiness and some walked away with disappointment.  True to its legacy (like it is said here) "Comrades race unites runners together since they forget about color, status, background and age, literally carrying each other to the finish line"

Learnings - of course & Heroic welcome!

The last one month was like traveling in an emotional roller coaster. There were moments when I felt better and there were certain other moments I felt like a stupid.  There was plenty of learning from this journey right from planning, training, dealing with injuries and excitements.

When I landed in the Bangalore airport I had a surprise and a heroic welcome from my wife and great friends including Mrs. Rama, Mrs. Krishna and Mr. Ravi.  They were so crazy to be waiting to receive me me at 2.00 am in the morning.   After reaching home another friend Sriram too joined us for a small celebration.

After 14 hrs of flying, 13 hrs lay over in Doha after landing in Bangalore at 2 am, I had to rush to my home and get back to the airport again at 5.00 am for a 10 days business trip to Pune.  My Comrades journey was literally very long this year.  Who said test of endurance is only running Ultra marathons :) huh! ?

After all it was not a bad decision to go to South Africa this year despite my injury vows.  Now I confidently know how to deal with some more troubles anyways :).

“Unnecessary fear of a bad decision is a major stumbling block to good decisions.”
- Jim Camp

"Izokuthoba" - certainly it did!!!

-------------------------------------------------------------
Few other exciting moments


with pinto, young runner from Mumbai 

 

@the Durban Airport



 This man is very special - he has the right to signal the 12 hr cut off (with the gun in his hand) 

 

my daughters art work at my door front


with Nilson Paulo De Lima, 4 times Comrades finisher, Boston+Big Sur finisher this year and the Olympic torch bearer from Brazil (met him in the flight)


with Ash Nath @ Doha Airport


happy Sam with his 12th Comrades finish - he has his heart in India too


my Comrades running gear 

About me,

I'm an ACE certified personal trainer, an Ultra Marathon runner, and a running coach.  A writer here and there and always enjoys the basic act of sharing and teaching others.  I left my corporate job after 24 years of working and have founded KaysFIT Academy, with a mission to promote overall wellness, provide best possible fitness coaching & mentoring, and fitness education.  


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